Halloween Playlist 2017


Hurricane Harvey flooded my home…my neighborhood…my city. We’re in a better place than many, so we feel fortune for that. We’re still working on ‘normal’ but are looking forward to Halloween.

I gather songs on Spotify and add to it every year to listen to in October. Here’s some songs for a Halloween playlist:

  1. The Twilight Zone, Jerry Goldsmith
  2. Black Magic Woman, Santana
  3. Scream, Michael Jackson & Janet Jackson
  4. Cannibal, Kesha
  5. Howl, Florence + The Machine
  6. Demons, Imagine Dragons
  7. Love is Mystical, Cold War Kids
  8. Shake the Devil, Joan Osborne
  9. Back to Autumn, Tall Heights
  10. Knock On My Door, Faouzia
  11. Creep, Radiohead
  12. Maneater, Hall & Oates

Playlists from 2012-2016 can be found here!

Happy Haunting!

Halloween 2016



Leslie Sansone’s Walking OFF the Pounds Review


I received a complimentary copy of this DVD for review purposes. Also, this post contains affiliate links marked with an asterisk (*).

Leslie Sansone’s Walking Off the Pounds* workout offers three new mile walks and a bonus healthy abs and back section. You can do the three miles together, or choose one mile from the menu. However, you can’t mix and match the workouts from the menu.

Mile 1 is fifteen minutes and includes the warm-up. The mile introduces the four main steps in all of Sansone’s workouts–marching, knee lifts, kicks, and side steps. It is low impact and done at a steady pace to get the heart rate up.

The second mile is thirteen minutes. This mile is done at a fast pace but is mostly low impact. There are some balance challenges like side-to-side skaters. There are also a few “boosts,” which includes jogging.

The third mile has a quicker pace and has some different moves like tap backs, squat and kicks, and mambos. This mile also includes a cool down with stretches. The segment is twenty minutes.

The Bonus Healthy Abs and Back segment is 14 minutes. Leslie suggests doing it three times a week.

As usual, Leslie is energetic and friendly. She encourages a healthy lifestyle. (“Never give up your walks!”)

There are a few times during this workout where the camera is at weird angles, so it is a bit distracting. Overall, though, it is an easy-to-follow program that’s especially good for beginners.

Wolf Scouts: Motor Away Elective


Trip is now a Wolf Scout, and the year is off to a great start! To get the rank of Wolf, Cub Scouts complete six required adventures, one elective, complete the Cyber Chip, and complete a pamphlet How to Protect Your Children from Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide with his family.

It was suggested by one of the other Den leaders that the boys should start the year with an elective. This would allow new Cub Scouts to settle in without being “behind” on the requirements if they started a fewmotor-away weeks after the meetings did.

We started with the Wolf elective Motor Away. The requirements are:

  1. Do the following:
    1. Create and fly three different types of paper airplanes. Before launching them, record which one you believe will travel the farthest and what property of the plane leads you to make that prediction.
    2. Make a paper airplane catapult. Before launching a plane, record how far you believe it will travel and explain what information you used to make this prediction. After you make your prediction, launch the plane and measure how far it flies.
  2. Make two different boats and sail them. Choose different shapes for your boats.
  3. Create a car that moves under its own power.

As a den, we discussed the forces at work to make each of the vehicles move (E.g. thrust, lift) and why they stop (E.g. gravity, friction).

The boys made three different paper airplanes, two boats, and a self-propelled car over a couple different meetings. They enjoyed racing them and using the planes for target practice.

The Wolf Scout Handbook gives a rationale for the adventure:

We live in an electronic world. This adventure gives Wolf Scouts the chance to rely on the power in their own bodies by blowing air, throwing planes, or using rubber bands. They will have the chance to explore propulsion in its most basic form. Motor Away, Wolves!

I also realized that to this point most of the boys had never made a paper airplane. They struggled a bit with following the directions and making the folds, but they got it in the end.

A few days later, Trip came out of school with paper airplanes he had made during some free time. A friend of his came out looking dejected. The friend was upset that he didn’t know how to fold paper airplanes. His mother was taken aback and worried that she hadn’t yet made paper airplanes with the boy. I assured her, “We just did this in Cub Scouts!” And, for the boy’s birthday, we gave him The Klutz Book of Paper Airplanes Craft Kit (*Associate Link).

Duck for President at Main Street Theater


Trip and I went to see Duck for President at the Main Street Theater.

The performance is based on a series of picture book by Doreen Cronin (author) and Betsy Lewin (illustrator). Duck is tired of helping out on the farm, so with the encouragement of Pig, he runs for various offices. First, he runs to replace Farmer Brown as farmer. After winning the election, Duck realizes that running a farm is hard work–even with the help of Cow, Pig, and Hen. Duck struggles to keep his campaign promises. What to do? Run for higher office, of course! Ultimately, Duck ends up in the White House.

This production is sprinkled with humor from the current presidential election.

My favorite part of the production are the costumes designed by Macy Lyne. There are no cow jumpsuits, pig snouts, or anything like that. Instead, Ms. Lyne uses colorful country style to suggest the animal. There’s fringe, big hair, and cowboy boots. Pig is head-to-toe pink, and Cow is in black and white. Duck is in black pants and a white shirt with orange details. The duck bill is the orange bill of his white hat. And best of all is rooster with colorful leggings  and a brown tutu. Her costume was topped off with a red, poofy fascinator. Very cute!

After the show, the actors are available for signatures and conversation.

Duck for President runs through October 29, 2016 at the MATCH location of Main Street Theater (Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston, 3400 Main Street, Houston, TX 77002).

2016 Halloween Playlist


Trip has declared Halloween his spirit holiday. He loves decorating, planning his costume, and having the spookiest house on the street.

To help get into the holiday spirit, here’s some more tracks to add to a Halloween playlist.

  1. Stranger Things, Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein (If you haven’t watched the Netflix show Stranger Things yet, get on that!)
  2. Evil Voices, The Faint
  3. Monster Lead Me Home, Sara Hartman
  4. This is Halloween, Marilyn Manson (After the song from The Nightmare Before Christmas.)
  5. The Munsters, Jack Marshall
  6. Wolf Bite, Owl City
  7. Scarecrow, Alex & Sierra
  8. Ghostbusters (I’m Not Afraid), Fall Out Boy, Missy Elliott (From the new Ghostbusters movie…LOVED IT! My cheeks hurt from laughing so hard!)
  9. Witch Doctor, David Seville
  10. You’ve Haunted Me All My Life, Death Cab for Cutie
  11. October, U2
  12. Letters to Ghosts, Lucie Silvas
  13. Dearly Departed, Shakey Graves featuring Esmé Patterson
  14. Under the Grave, Rozes
  15. The Monster, Eminem & Rihanna

Check out previous Halloween playlists for 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012.

The Revolutionists at Main Street Theater


I went to one of preview performances of The Revolutionists at the Main Street Theater last week. I was intrigued by the notion of a comedy about the women of the French Revolution. Now, The Revolutionists is not history as it was. Rather it is how playwright Lauren Gunderson imagines how it could have been if four key women of the French Revolution formed a sisterhood in 1793.

Four is, after all, a magical number for sisterhoods (think Sex and the City, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Girls, Little Women, etc.). Three of the women are based on historical figures. There’s Olympe De Gouges (played by Shannon Emerick), playwright and author of the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen; Charlotte Corday (played by Molly Searcy), the assassin of the radical Jacobin Jean-Paul Marat; and Marie Antoinette (played by Bree Welch), the former Queen of France. The fourth woman, Marianne Angelle (played by Callina Situka), represents activists of the slave uprising in the French colony of Saint Domingue as the wife of Vincent Ogé, an early leader in the Haitian Revolution.

Source: Main Street Theater, Photo by Blueprint Films

The four women struggle with their legacies during the Reign of Terror, but the looming presence of the guillotine is a constant reminder of the possible consequences of their actions.

While the subject matter is historical, The Revolutionists is filled with anachronisms. In that sense, it reminded me a lot of A Knight’s Tale. There are jokes to get an easy laugh, such as the multiple jokes regarding Les Misérables (which, of course, had nothing to do with the French Revolution but is a well-known musical about a rebellion in France). But, there’s also discussion of more serious subjects of politics, power, privilege, and women’s rights and how to best respond when things just aren’t going your way. That’s not an easy task during the Reign of Terror considering the threat of death. That’s why, as one character quips, it’s called the Reign of Terror, not the Reign of Agree-to-Disagree.

The Revolutionists runs through October 2, 2016 at Main Street Theater (Rice Village location).

Games We Play — K-1st Grade


We enjoy family game time, including board games. Trip is now seven, so he’s developing skills to better play more complicated games. We have moved on from games like Candy Land, and the games are more fun for adults to play. Here’s a list of a few of our favorites the past few years. It includes a lot of classic games!

The post contains affiliate links.

1. Sorry!  A fun game with some strategy and some luck involved. The goal is to race around the board to get your four pawns into the safe zone. Depending on the card you draw, you might send an opponent back a few spaces or way back to start. Sorry…not sorry! Of course, turnabout is fair play. Trip likes playing with the Fire and Ice Power-ups, which allow you to freeze an opponent or help your pawns along the board.

2. Operation Another classic game. Players take turns attempting to remove parts from the board. You have to be careful, or you’ll get buzzed! There are many different versions, including a super cool Star Wars edition.

3. Jenga Simple game to play. Blocks are formed in a tower to start. Players take turns removing blocks one-by-one and re-stack onto the tower. There’s suspense as each block is removed and lots of laughs when the tower falls.

4. Connect 4 Time to be strategic and connect four of your colored game pieces in a row before your opponent does!

5. Trouble I think the draw of this game is the Pop-o-Matic that is used to roll the die. The object is to race your four pawns from start to your safety zone. There may be trouble along the way. Opponents can send each other back to start by landing on their pawns. When just Trip and I play, we double up and each play two colors.

6. Spot It! This card consists of a deck of cards. Each card has a variety of pictures on them. Two cards are placed on the table for comparison. Each pair of cards has one–and only one–matching picture. The goal is to spot the matching picture on the cards before your opponent. It can be fast paced and a lot of fun, and it can be played by people of a wide span of ages.

From Amazon.com

7. Scrabble Junior Trip received this game a couple years ago, and at first I thought it was a little tough for a four-year-old. But, it’s actually a game that is good for developing letter and word-building skills for young kids. The box says 5 and up. The board has two sides. One side has words already printed on it. This side is good for children who can identify letters and are just beginning to put together words. The other side looks more like a traditional Scrabble board for kids who are able to spell their own words.

8. Bounce-Off Game Trip received this game for Christmas. I was told, “We got him beer pong for kids.” That’s what it looks like with the ping pong balls. The object of the game is to land balls in patterns on the grid before the other person. If you win the challenge, you get the card. Collect three cards to win the round.

9. UNO A fun game where players try to discard all their cards by matching their hand to the discard pile (matching colors, numbers, or using a wild). There are many different versions, including a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-themed game. The TMNT UNO game also has an added pizza card. The person who plays the card gets to call the color like a Wild card, and the next person has to draw cards from the card pile until they get one that features a turtle.

10. Monopoly Junior Players buy property and compete to stay in the green. Expenses pop up, like when you have to pay an opponent because you landed on their property. If you can’t pay, it’s game over! I like this version even more than “grown-up” Monopoly. It moves (and ends) much quicker!

What are your favorite games for elementary-aged kids?